The world desperately needs the Gospel. They need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ and they need to know that he is the answer their soul is longing for. We have the message of Jesus but how often do we share it with our friends and family? Not often enough, I would imagine.
Right before Jesus ascended to heaven, he said these words to his disciples:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:19-20 ESV
And yet, 47% of millennial Christians said that they believe evangelism is wrong. I’ll be the first to admit that sharing the Gospel feels daunting. Many people do not want to hear this message. They may not only reject the message, they may also reject you. But it’s better to be rejected by friends and family for sharing the truth than to be loved by them for withholding the most important information they need to know.
Look at what Ezekiel 3:18 says,
If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.Ezekiel 3:18 ESV
I know those words sound harsh but it’s the truth. If I refuse to share the truth of the Gospel with my friends and family, I’m held responsible.
But, how we share the message of the Gospel matters just as much as sharing it. Many non-Christians are turned off to Christianity because of the way many of us try to force our faith on them. We should be sharing the Gospel from a place of love and compassion. This is what we will be focusing on in this article. The way Jesus spoke with the Samaritan Woman is an excellent model for how we can approach our friends and family with the Gospel.
4 Things You Can Learn About Sharing the Gospel from the Story of the Samaritan Woman
Many Millennial Christians refuse to share the Gospel and some Christians share the Gospel with the wrong attitude. How can we bridge that gap by sharing the Gospel the way Jesus intended us to? Let’s look at seven key points in this story and learn from Jesus about how we can engage with people who do not believe as we do in love and respect.
1. Jesus had to pass through Samaria
John 4:4 tells us that Jesus had to pass through Samaria on his way to Galilee. It’s not that he needed to go through Samaria to get to his destination. There were other ways he could travel. In fact, the Jews despised the Samaritans and always took the long road to Galilee to avoid them. Jesus intentionally went through Samaria because there was someone in Samaria who needed to hear his message.
What does this teach us? We need to be going the extra mile for people. There are people in our lives that are rejected and cast off. While it would be normal to go about our daily routine and ignore them, we can’t. We are called to reach the people no one else wants to reach and to love the people no one else wants to love. They are worthy of being seen just like anyone else.
2. Jesus asked her for a drink
It was revolutionary that Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman. Jews didn’t speak to Samaritans. Not only that, Rabbis did not speak to women in public, not even their own wives or daughters. If two strikes against her weren’t enough, she had a difficult past with men, had five husbands, and lived with a man she wasn’t married to. If a Rabbi even were to speak to her, it would be condemning words, not a friendly conversation.
Yet, Jesus asks her for a drink. He treats her like a friend.
How are we treating the people we’re evangelizing to? Are we so focused on their sin that we can’t see their humanity? Do we genuinely care about their lives? Or are we just trying to tell them how to live?
If we want to share the Gospel effectively, we need to do it from a place of relationship. Sit with people, get to know them, love them. Be a genuine friend with no agendas.
3. Jesus introduces living water into the discussion
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”John 4:10 ESV
Jesus knew what she needed. He knew what he could offer. Her heart was longing for true satisfaction and he was the answer to her heart’s longing. Don’t be afraid to share the Gospel. You have the truth people’s hearts are longing for. Tell them about what Jesus has done in your life. Share the full gospel with them.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”John 4:13-15 ESV
The water that this woman came to the well for day after day could satisfy for a season but it couldn’t satisfy for eternity. Many people are drinking “water” that won’t really satisfy. Help them to understand that they can trade their “water” for living water. If they do, they will never thirst again.
4. Jesus confronts her sin and brokenness
This is the part that I’m sure none of us like to do. However, there is a way to do this well. Our goal is not to shame or condemn or to make anyone feel bad. People will not receive Jesus until they realize that what they currently have isn’t working. This is why we point out sin and brokenness. When someone realizes the problem with doing life without Jesus, it produces godly sorrow within them. This sorrow leads them to repentance. Instead of feeling condemned, they feel free. They are no longer held back by sin and shame. Jesus exposed all of it into the light and set them free.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV
Prior to this point, I don’t think the woman really knew what Jesus was referring to by living water. In ancient times, the term “living water” was a way to describe spring water. It looked alive in the way that it bubbled up from the ground. She probably just thought he was offering her spring water.
But when Jesus asks her about her husband and tells her the truth about her past, she realized that there was something more about him. Then, he revealed to her that he was the Messiah. I imagine things clicked for her that instant. He wasn’t just speaking about water. He was speaking of a greater promise.
Do only what you can do
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.1 Corinthians 3:6-7 ESV
So, we spoke about four things you can learn about sharing the Gospel through the story of the Samaritan Woman. But, I want to remind you of something else: do only what you can do. Yes, we share the message but Jesus transforms hearts.
I think this is where we often go wrong. We want people to be saved so badly that we become pushy. But, there’s no point being pushy. Just share the Gospel in love and allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest.
Maintain the relationship
The next thing I want to encourage you to do is to maintain the relationship. Whether they accept the Gospel and choose to follow Jesus or not, they are still a person you are called to love. Be a genuine friend and be there for them.
Show hospitality. Let people know that you care about them. While I believe explicitly sharing the Gospel in words is important, it’s also important to be good representatives of the Gospel we live by.
The Samaritan Woman’s response
So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”John 4:28-29 ESV
She was so moved by her encounter with Jesus that she left her water pot behind and went running into town, telling everyone about him. While the story of the Samaritan Woman is a beautiful picture of how we can share the Gospel, it’s more than just that. It’s a story of how Jesus reached you and me in our darkest places and pulled us out.
We are the Samaritan Woman, and moved with conviction about the good news of Jesus Christ, we are compelled to share it with others. We invite others to come meet Jesus too. He transformed our lives and he can transform theirs as well.
May we use her example and go into our communities and tell everyone about a man who loved us enough to not just expose our sins, but to transform us so that our sins no longer can keep us captive.
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”John 4:38 ESV
Because of the faith of one woman, many Samaritans came to know Jesus as well.
There is power in sitting with people, loving them, and sharing the Gospel with them. Let’s share this message well so that people within our communities may come to know Jesus too.